It was early evening on a Friday night. I replied to an email from a client, stating that I had been traveling all week and would get her what she was requesting on Monday. Shortly after hitting send, I glanced at the preview pane and noticed a typo. I had told her I had been "raveling" all week.
Raveling. Fraying. Becoming separated from the woven fabric. The truth is, I felt as if I had been slowly raveling all week, but it didn't feel so bad. The threads of this year had been making themselves visible as lone fibers.
Still, the word bothered me - until I found this anonymous comment on Yahoo! answers.
"When a thread is loose, as in a novel or something complex, it's isolated and lets you see how it works. In this case it's good; it clarifies things. But if a loose thread leads to a tangled mess, say, in a shoelace or sweater, it complicates and confuses everything."
I was (and still am) slowly unwinding, parsing out the priorities for the remainder of the year, looking back only to see where they fit in with the commitments that mattered, and looking ahead to determine which threads to weave and which to snip.
Oddly, that same evening my metaphor played out in an interaction with an airport store clerk. As I was hurriedly paying for my purchase, he asked: "Would you like me to clip that for you?"
"Clip what?" I replied, knowing that there were no tags attached to my water purchase.
"The string on your coat," he said, pointing to a loose thread hanging from my sleeve.
"Sure," I said. I handed him my arm and he neatly snipped the rogue strand of fiber.
Loose threads lead to tangled messes only when they ravel unattended. And it's so easy to allow the many loose ends of the busy holiday season, year-end duties and future plans to become a confused flurry of unfocused activities.
We have a choice. We can examine the tapestries we've woven and leave them to rest in their simple perfection, or snip the loose threads. We can decide what colors and fibers we'll use to weave the art of the new year ahead.
For me, the next two weeks will be a time of reflection, a time to ravel and examine, untangle and clarify. I'm looking forward to the peace of it.
[Originally published 20-DEC-2013]